When is the healthiest time to eat dinner?

When is the best time to eat your supper? Do you prefer to ‘eat your tea’ the old-fashioned British way – early – or opt for the more sophisticated late-night meal as favoured by our French and Mediterranean cousins?

The timing of dinner is a hot topic.

But, which is the healthiest option?

Scientists at Columbia University's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York may have found an answer to this conundrum.

The US researchers looked at the cardiovascular health of 112 women around the age of 33.

Study participants recorded how much and when they ate for one week at the beginning of the study and for one week 12 months later.

Researchers found:

  • Those who consumed a higher proportion of their daily calories after 6pm had poorer heart health
  • Consuming more calories after 6 p.m correlated with  higher blood pressure, higher body mass index and poorer long-term control of blood sugar

Lead study author Nour Makarem, Ph.D., an associate research scientist at Columbia University's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York commented:  "So far, lifestyle approaches to prevent heart disease have focused on what we eat and how much we eat. These preliminary results indicate that intentional eating that is mindful of the timing and proportion of calories in evening meals may represent a simple, modifiable behaviour that can help lower heart disease risk."

Traditionally, British people have often opted for earlier meals – from 6:30 pm. to 8 pm, whereas in Spain, they sit down to eat at 9pm.

Clearly, although nutritionists often extoll the benefits of olive oil and salad as consumed in Italy and Spain, eating late is one Mediterranean habit we should avoid.

So which foods should we chowing down on during our early supper? Stephanie Moore, nutritionist and author says ‘Opt for foods high in fat & fibre, with some protein present, think  full-fat Greek yogurt with berries nuts and seeds; omelette with cheese and a big salad; fatty cuts of meat made in to a tasty stew with vegetables and buttery cauliflower mash;  avocado & Mozzarella salad with lots of olive oil; Thai chicken curry with full-fat coconut milk and lots of veg -  high fat, high calorie, nutrient-dense and therefore filling, satisfying and super-tasty meals.”

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One of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. Full medical glossary
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